Thursday, November 11, 2004

Just how happy should we be?

In the event you haven't guessed I'm Jewish.

For a situation like the death of Arafat just how happy is a Jew allowed to be? Jewish case law goes into this in detail:

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, Dean of Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim in the Old City of Jerusalem and Rabbi of Beit El, writes that when considering the injunction not to "rejoice upon the fall of your enemy," it depends who the enemy is:
"When the Purim story occurred, Mordechai did not act particularly compassionately towards Haman. When the latter cited this verse, Mordechai replied that it did not apply to him. The same with Arafat, who killed many Jews and left many widows, widowers, orphans and suffering wounded... It's true that G-d told the angels not to sing when the Egyptians were drowning in the Red Sea - but the Children of Israel did sing! We, too, are not angels - just as the Rabbi of Pisetzna, Rabbi Kalman Kalonymus Shapira, wrote during the Holocaust: 'Did an angel ever get hit? Did an angel ever get murdered? Did an angel ever get humiliated? We did! In Egypt, the angels didn't suffer - so they don't have to sing [afterwards]. But we did suffer, [and that's why we sang]...' For Arafat we say, 'when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.'"
Believe it or not there is more. You can read it at the above url.

We handed out chocolates at my house.

Kesher Talk was kind enough to link. They have more on the subject.


Scott said...

I'm neither Jewish nor Christian, so take this with a large helping of your favorite seasoning. But Rabbi Shappira's (and by extension Rabbi Aviner's) justification for rejoicing the death of another by the reason that we are not angels rings false to me. I think the goal of any religious belief should be the betterment of one's moral outlook. And part of that moral outlook as shown by the injunction not to be happy at another's misfortune. Perhaps the rabbis are pointing out that our humanity means we are not perfect, so we should not be ashamed of imperfect emotions such as the desire for vengeance or this case of schadenfreude. But I think they should also make clear that acceptance should not be the same as encouragement.

I'm also a little surprised that Mordechai can get away with ignoring a stricture, from an Orthodox perspective. I thought the whole point of Orthodox belief was that all the laws and injunctions must be obeyed, period.

David Blue said...

I was wildly happy when Saddam Hussein was dragged from his spider-hole. I expect I'll be just as happy when they finally get Osama bin Laden.

I wasn't particularly gleeful at the death of Arafat, even though the world is a better place without him. He'd been almost dead for so long, and I have no confidence that anybody better will replace him.

But I have no quarrel with anybody else being happy that he's gone. The world really is a better place without him in it.

Is your handing out chocolates morally equivalent to Palestinians handing out sweets to celebrate the 11th of September, 2001? Not at all. They celebrated the deaths of thousands of innocents. You were happy at the death of one extremely evil man. Sometimes you just have to say that even though both sides say "we're right and they're wrong" it really does come down to us being right and them being wrong.

The ancient Egyptians, who I think were wise, didn't encourage vengeance, but they had no problem with cursing raiding savages who were a threat to all civilised (Egyptian) people in common. I think that's a reasonable way to think about it. Or as some rabbis say: don't rejoice at the deaths of merely personal enemies, but the truly wicked are in a different category. That's not personal vengeance.

7472 said...

Not what I was searching for, but none the less and interesting blog here. Thanks for putting it up. I've enjoyed reading alot of the text here. I got you bookmarked for the future, I'll be back.

My site is a bit different, some think it's odd. I guess it's a matter how you look at it. I have a mens male enhancement reviews related site. Most of the articles are on mens male enhancement reviews.